A cross-party group of 41 UK MEPs has written to a high-level international legal commission to ask for its intervention over ‘declining democratic standards’ in the UK. The letter to the Venice Commission, signed by over almost half the UK’s newly elected MEPs, as well as some outgoing MEPs, raises concerns over the exclusion of specific groups of voters and undemocratic standards in both the EU referendum in 2016 and this year’s European elections.
The Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP and Plaid Cymru MEPs have asked the Commission to investigate breaches of spending rules and data-protection laws as well as the exclusion of non-UK EU citizens residing in the UK from voting during the 2016 referendum. They have also asked them to investigate the disenfranchisement of UK citizens resident in other EU countries and non-UK EU citizens resident in the UK from the European elections this year.
Molly, who coordinated the letter, said:
“It is clear that our existing government, and certainly neither of the contenders for the Tory leadership, have the slightest intention of addressing the worrying decline in our democratic standards. People are being excluded and laws have been broken. But most worryingly of all, it is our democracy itself that is broken.
“Brexit is a crime scene, yet our efforts to ensure the perpetrators face justice, using the agencies available in the UK such as the Electoral Commission and National Crime Agency, have so far failed. It is time to look further afield to international bodies upholding democratic standards and protecting the rule of law, which is why we are taking our case to the Vienna Commission.”
Labour MEP, Claude Moraes, who is Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), said:
“It is clear that this Conservative Government has refused to take seriously the disenfranchisement of citizens who were entitled to carry out their most important democratic right to vote.
“The deafening silence from this Government to calls for an inquiry or even any signs of concern suggests a decline in democratic standards and force us to take this serious step of reaching out to a respected, high-level legal body, the Vienna Commission. Brexit is producing many negative consequences – a decline in our democratic standards should not be one of them.”